Mindset – the key to winning a deadly encounter

By Jim Irvine

There are many components that go into winning a violent encounter; having the proper tools at hand, shooting ability, physical conditioning, tactics and all the particulars of the specific incident. But the most important aspect may be mindset.

Having the pre-determined mindset that you will not be a victim, that you will win against any attacker, at any time, any place, and any situation, is the crux of self-defense.

Proper mindset starts with the realization that just because you live in a good neighborhood, work in a safe office and shop and travel in low crime areas, you are not guaranteed to be safe. Police rarely respond in time to stop a crime. They investigate the crime that happened before they arrived.

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Many people never pass this first hurtle until they or someone very close to them is attacked. Once shattered, the ignorant, “it will not happen to me” bliss will never be repaired.

When you walk into a room, know how to get out. The door you came in is one, but if it’s blocked where is your other exit? Never sit down until you’ve located your second exit. It might be an emergency exit, or another room, or the kitchen in a restaurant, or a window, but you need a backup to your primary exit. Make it a safety exercise for your family. It applies equally to escaping a burning building or a man with a gun. If you can get out safely, make your move.

If you have a concealed carry license and carry your firearm, you have at least started down the road to proper mindset. But just carrying a gun is not enough. You must be prepared to use it.

None of us wants to shoot another person, even a violent criminal. But if a criminal decides that someone is going to die or be severely injured, you do have the ability to influence if that person is the criminal or his victim.

John Boyd defined the OODA loop. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. Observe your opponents actions. Orient yourself to the situation. Is this a real threat? Decide on your action. Maybe your first action is removing other family, friends and bystanders from the room through your secondary exit. Maybe remind someone to call 911. Maybe you move to a different room to gain a tactical advantage. Act on your decisions.

As you act, you continue to observe, orient, decide and act again. Your goal is to move through your OODA loop faster than your adversary, thus “getting inside” his OODA loop and forcing him to react to you. By processing your observations and acting on sound decisions, you can force your opponent into a loosing position. Win the encounter.

Once involved in a fight, be aggressive. Take up a forward-aggressive stance. Move to cover. Issue commands. Gain and keep control of the situation. Then check your world (all 360 degrees) and make sure you have controlled all threats.

This does not come naturally to us. We need to practice. The proper mindset allows us to use the OODA loop in our daily lives so that we are always prepared.

When walking in public, see strangers before they see you. Make yourself a difficult target. If you feel uneasy, plan your next move in the event a threat develops. Consider crossing the street, or stepping into a business, or putting yourself between your child and the threat. Move your hands to a ready position.

Observe, Orient, decide, act. Repeat.

Shooting ability is important. Use of proper tactics can save your life. But without the proper mindset you will not use your skills and knowledge appropriately. Criminal prepare for the encounter – you should too.

Each of us can improve our winning mindset. It is not a stationary thing that is attained, but rather something we must work on every day.

Surviving is not winning. Survivors go to the hospital after an attack. Winners go home. Mindset is a key difference between the two. Make a decision now – that you will win any violent encounter that a thug brings to you.

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